MTV’s New Marijuana Comedy No Laughing Matter
Marijuana shops, jail tax idea reviewed at Longmont-Boulder County officials’ dinner
The presence of Boulder County-licensed marijuana establishments in Longmont’s midst, and a proposal to fund a new alternative-sentencing facility and upgrades of the county jail were among the topics discussed when county commissioners and the City Council met over dinner Thursday night. Some council members have expressed concerns about Boulder County permitting retail marijuana sales shops to locate in unincorporated Boulder County enclaves surrounded by, but outside, Longmont’s city limits. There are three such marijuana shops operating now – Green Tree Medicinals, at 12626 N. 107th St.; Native Roots, at 19 S. Sunset St.; and Euflora Recreational Marijuana, at 250 S. Main St.
Longmont officials are in the process of reviewing 13 applications for the up to four retail marijuana businesses a City Council majority last year agreed could eventually open their doors within the city limits. A review panel’s recommendations are expected to be announced later this summer, but those four would be in addition to the three shops already operating in the unincorporated Boulder County enclaves – along with any others that may get county approval to operate in enclaves or on land at the city’s edge. Commissioner Cindy Domenico noted that Boulder County lost a court challenge of its initial refusal to allow the marijuana dispensary at the South Sunset Street location. Longmont could take steps to annex the entire enclaves where those county-permitted retail marijuana dispensaries are located, either if the current landowners seek such annexations or the city follows forcible-annexation procedures – although city planners have advised that forcible annexations could be a years-long process. Mayor Brian Bagley suggested the county consider revising its land use and zoning codes so that marijuana businesses are not automatically a use by right in those kinds of locations.
As it stands now, the owners of the marijuana shops in those enclaves and their customers would probably oppose the areas being annexed, Bagley acknowledged, because the stores would have to charge Longmont’s 3.53 percent municipal sales tax and a 3 percent additional sales tax on marijuana purchases. Boulder County now has a 0.985 percent county sales tax that’s charged on marijuana purchases but no special county marijuana sales tax on top of that. Longmont and Boulder County officials at Thursday night’s meeting endorsed having the city and county land use, planning and development staffs meet to study the possibility of amending the county’s Land Use Code and its current use-by-right category for retail marijuana businesses in enclaves surrounded by Boulder County cities and towns – revisions that, if enacted, could probably not be applied retroactively to marijuana stores already operating and complying with the county’s current code. Later during the informal dinner meeting at Longmont’s Fire Station No. 5, the commissioners briefed Longmont council members and the city staff on a proposal they’re considering to ask Boulder County voters in November for a 0.185 percent sales and use tax to pay for building a new facility for offenders assigned to alternative-sentencing programs instead of incarceration, and to pay for improvements to the existing 30-year-old county jail. County commissioners are expected to hold a public hearing and take formal action in August about whether to advance the sales-tax proposal to November’s ballot, and the Longmont City Council may formally declare its support or opposition to the question if the commissioners do present it to voters.
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